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‘Jobs’ Disappoints, but Kutcher Doesn’t

This week I wrote a review of Jobs for Critics Associated. Read it here, or check out the original.

Though unintentional, Jobs provided a number of laugh-out-loud moments.

It’s ironic that a film about a well-known perfectionist can be so unbelievably far from perfect. Though against all odds, it seems Ashton Kutcher is not at fault for this week’s box office bomb. His performance as Steve Jobs is good, particularly in his physical recreation of the Apple tycoon, but it’s certainly not great.

Problems with Jobs are abundant and obvious, specifically in regards to the writing. Basic conversations are cluttered with “Steve’s,” – each character throwing around the name as though it’s a form of product placement. The film’s dialogue would seem significantly less contrived if the actors only said the name in moments it was naturally necessary. Hearing “Hey Steve,” “Bye Steve,” and “Thanks Steve,” every few minutes or so forces the already poorly written dialogue to appear blatantly artificial. Jobs may leave you wondering: Is this a joke?

Ultimately, the issues with Jobs lie in the writing and the subject matter. Emotional moments depend relentlessly on music to influence the tone of the scene, rather than the writing and performances. The movie is littered with stereotypical “inspiring moments,” characterized by powerfully spoken monologues that teeter between sentimental and tacky, accompanied by orchestral crescendos. Rather than commanding inspiration, these scenes simply suggest it. But even if the writing were spectacular, it’s unclear if the subject matter is well suited as the focus of an entire film. Or quite possibly, it’s the manner in which director Joshua Michael Stern approaches the subject that leaves the audience questioning if the performance they saw on screen is actually what the computer mogul was truly like.

Steve Jobs was a strong-willed and intelligent man who changed the world of technology, but historically he was neither gentle nor likable. It’s easy to lose interest in a movie when the lead character has seemingly no redeeming qualities. As a character he’s complicated, but not in a way that intrigues or sparks empathy and interest. As he is portrayed in the film, Steve Jobs was a cold, rude, selfish, and greedy man whose sole interests were business, power, and money. He seems complex, but only one dimensional – driven predominantly by selfish reasons and unripe values. In one uncomfortably awkward scene, Jobs kicks his pregnant girlfriend out of his house, later refusing to pay child support while his income is in the millions. As his success develops he begins to ignore the very people that started Apple with him, and is so difficult to work with that at one point he is eventually let go by his own company. There’s a summit at which his story of success seems selfish in itself – the “moral of the story” equating to the idea that it’s okay to screw over lots of people as long as you’re driven.

Any apple-fans who catch Jobs will presumably be left unsatisfied by the film that ignores the authenticity of the Apple founder’s quirks and brilliance. What Steve Jobs achieved was genius – but Jobs is not a proper tribute to his life’s work. Instead it is left sitting dull without a genuine core or defined purpose. If Steve Jobs were alive today he’d surely send this version of the film back for a re-design.


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